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Saturday 11th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

Tory defector Douglas Carswell sails to victory in Clapton by-election

THE xenophobic UK Independence Party secured its first ever parliamentary seat yesterday following a by-election in Clacton.

The by-election was triggered after sitting Tory MP Douglas Carswell defected to Ukip and resigned from his seat in August.

Mr Carswell comfortably topped the poll with 21,113 votes — a majority of 12,404.

Turnout was 51.2 per cent with 35,386 ballot papers counted — a decrease from the 64.2 per cent turnout at the 2010 general election.

Tory Giles Watling received 8,709 votes to finish second while Labour’s Tim Young finished third with 3,957 votes. 

The Lib Dems lost their deposit after the Green Party beat them into fifth place.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the results had “shaken up” the entire British political system and predicted that Ukip would take its second seat in Rochester and Strood, where another Tory defector Mark Reckless has also stood down to force a by-election.

Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps warned that the loss of votes to Ukip threatened to hand power to Labour at the general election in May, putting paid to David Cameron’s plans for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

“This is an alarm clock moment. The mathematical outcome of the next election is either Ed Miliband in Downing Street or David Cameron,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Heywood and Middleton, Liz McInnes held the seat for Labour in a contest following the death of former MP Jim Dobbin.

On a turnout of just 36 per cent Ms McInnes won with 11,633 votes, a 40.9 per cent share, defeating Ukip’s John Bickley on 11,016, a 38.7 per cent share.

Labour’s campaign co-ordinator, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, said the party had actually increased its share of the vote in Heywood and Middleton, despite seeing its majority slashed.

“The reason the Ukip number moved up was not because there was a collapse in Labour’s share of the vote, but there was a complete collapse in support for the Liberal Democrats and indeed the Conservatives,” he told BBC News.

But Labour backbencher John Mann said: “The real issue is why so many Labour voters are not bothering to vote. The mantra of ‘must work harder’ is not sufficient.

“If Ed Miliband does not broaden the Labour coalition to better include working-class opinion then we cannot win a majority government.”